Flag Ceremony celebrates Woodlands' rich cultural diversity

The Woodlands Academy of the Sacred Heart community celebrated its multicultural makeup during the annual Flag Ceremony and prayer service Friday, Sept. 11. There were some changes due to the many COVID-19 protocols governing the resumption of in-person classroom learning just two weeks earlier. For one thing, only program participants were allowed in the school’s chapel during the ceremony. Spectators, typically seated in the pews, instead watched remotely via Zoom from their classrooms, offices and homes.

The flags of 17 nations – Afghanistan, Belize, Canada, China, Colombia, France, Guatemala, India, Italy, Mexico, the Philippines, Rwanda, Singapore, United Kingdom, United States of America, Venezuela and Vietnam – were carried into the chapel during the Procession of the Nations. They will remain on display during the entire school year to visualize the breadth of Woodlands Academy’s cultural diversity. They represent nations where either a student or faculty/staff member was born or where they hold dual citizenship.

 “Here at Woodlands we are truly blessed with a community rich in cultural diversity,” Center for Global Studies Director Jessica Campbell said. “The community of Woodlands Academy fosters deep love and compassion for others and a yearning to learn about the unknown. This is very much the educational vision of all Sacred Heart Schools.”

Later in the program, senior Dana Ponce Hernandez reflected on her student exchange visit to Taiwan last fall. “If I'm completely honest, I encountered many cultural differences with my host family,” she said. “But at the end, I figured we are more alike at our core than could've ever imagined. We hope that as we gather as one community that this liturgy will unite us as we explore and celebrate our diversity.”

Students and faculty/staff representing 13 countries also offered prayers in their native language during the ceremony.

Woodlands Academy offers students a variety of ways to experience cultural diversity first-hand. Its boarding school is home to several girls from other countries pursuing their high school education at the Lake Forest school. In addition, Woodlands is part of a worldwide network of Sacred Heart Schools that spans the United States and 40 other countries around the world. Its students can participate in an exchange program allowing them to spend some time at one of the other Sacred Heart schools as well as Woodlands Academy’s Global Odyssey and Global Scholar programs.